By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – South Broadway in De Pere lost one historic building in the April 24 OGAN restaurant fire and now it’s losing another.
Jerry Turba, owner of 100 S. Broadway, the building that housed OGAN restaurant and which burned to the ground, said he has decided to raze the building next door – 106 S. Broadway, home to Turba-Schroeder Photography.
It too sustained significant damage in the fire, although its brick facade has stood largely intact except for windows broken during the fire.
He told the De Pere Common Council Tuesday, Aug. 6, of his plans during a status update on the cleanup of the fire site at 100 S. Broadway.
“It (106 S. Broadway) would cost half a million dollars to repair, and that wouldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t smell of smoke and mold,” Turba told the De Pere Common Council.
He said he is not willing to take the chance that a repaired building might smell of smoke.
“It would lead to a question of rentability,” he said.
Built in 1882, the brick Italianate style building at 106 S. Broadway was originally the Julius Krause store building.
Krause manufactured shoes and experienced success doing so, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society.
He had the building built to replace the one he rented, which was destroyed in a fire.
The second floor of the building served as the shoe factory, while the first floor functioned as his retail shoe store.
According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, many commercial buildings in the late 1800s were built in the Italianate style and weren’t an uncommon sight in towns around the state.
“But many have since been either demolished or altered,” according to WHS architectural archives.
The Krause building was important because, until the fire, at least, it retained a “high level of integrity” and helped “illustrate the appearance of nineteenth century streetscapes.”
De Pere Fire Chief Alan Matzke said cleanup efforts at the fire site started early this week.
“Things are going along well so far, and and we expect them to continue to move right along,” Matzke said.
Cleanup is expected to take about three weeks, finishing up around the last week of the month.
In the interim, a parking lane and the sidewalk will be closed.
Matzke said crews are sorting through the debris, separating brick, wood and metal to repurpose, and asbestos to be safely dealt with.
He said the asbestos will be trucked via a licensed asbestos carrier to Hilbert.
Mayor Michael Walsh expressed condolences at the loss of property for Turba.
Turba said it was his tenants who lost everything.
“There are some who left with the clothes on their backs, leaving cell phones, drivers licenses, and IDs behind,” Turba said. “Then to have to try to rebuild that, and to try to convince people you are who you say you are.”
He credited the local fire departments, municipalities and all of the groups that worked together to help out, including groups that raised money to help the fire victims.
“We don’t know what your plans are, but whatever they are, we wish you the best of luck,” Walsh said.